One of Donald Trump’s advisors has revealed that Trump has asked them about his power to pardon aides, family members, and even himself in connection with the Russia probe, according to the Washington Post. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.
With the Russia investigation continuing to widen—it’s now looking into Trump’s finances, and Trump reportedly panicked when he learned Mueller would be examining several years of his tax returns—Trump’s lawyers are working to limit the probe and are actively compiling a list of alleged potential conflicts of interest from Mueller and his team, which they hope to use to stymie Mueller’s work.
One of the more surreal claims of potential bias being looked at by the White House, according to Slate, is how Mueller’s tenure as a member at one of Trump’s golf courses came to an end. A potential conflict claim is an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011.
As the Post article notes, if Trump pardoned himself in the face of the ongoing Mueller investigation, it would set off a legal and political firestorm—in particular about whether a president can use the constitutional pardon power in that way:
The power to pardon is granted to the president in Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, which gives the commander in chief the power to “grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.”
That means pardon authority extends to federal criminal prosecution but not to state level or impeachment inquiries. No president has sought to pardon himself, so no courts have reviewed it.
What do you think?